Keith Johnson
The Wall Street Journal
November 6, 2008

Voters didn’t just decide on the president or Congress yesterday. Among five major energy and environmental ballot initiatives from California to Missouri, all but one were voted down. Does that mean that apparent public support for clean energy withers away when the rubber meets the road?

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Not necessarily. But it does suggest that any government plans to boost clean energy have to be sharply focused, realistic, and present a clear win for voters, who are also consumers. Grist has a great rundown on state-level initatives, here.

Take California, which shot down both of the clean-energy propositions on the ballot. Proposition 7 would have established new rules to ramp up renewable energy, while Proposition 10 would have provided $5 billion to jumpstart natural-gas vehicles in the state, already an environmental leader. What happened?

Many environmentalists, business groups, and renewable-energy companies opposed Proposition 7, along with practically every newspaper, because it could have actually stunted clean-energy growth by discouraging small solar power and muddling regulatory responsibilities. The measure garnered just 35% support.

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